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Jury selection began Tuesday in Vallejo in the murder trial of a 27-year-old state prison inmate accused of shooting the owner of a Vallejo pawn shop, wounding a store clerk and killing the store’s dog in 2016.

At the start of the morning hearing, Solano County Superior Court Judge Daniel Healy told the 60 potential jurors the five charges against Brazeal-Nelson, a former Vallejo resident: murder, three counts of second-degree robbery and one count of cruelty to animals.

Brazeal-Nelson was one of two men involved in the fatal robbery in late December. The other is Amonie Azoun Andre Summerise, 29, of Vallejo, who is charged with six felony counts, including murder and attempted murder. He faces a separate trial on July 29.

Vallejo Police records show that on December 20, 2016, at approximately 3:10 p.m., officers responded to reports of a possible robbery at the Pawn Advantage store on Springs Road.

Store owner Timothy Pult, 49, of San Anselmo, and store employee Josh Poole of Fairfax were found inside the store. Both suffered gunshot wounds. Pult’s dog Copper, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, was found shot to death near the store entrance.

To identify the suspects, police released surveillance video of the robbery in January 2017. In July, they released 24 seconds of footage showing two men entering the store with their faces covered and weapons in their hands.

The publicly available footage does not show the shooting, but the suspects can be seen quickly leaving the store and one of them can be seen turning around and pointing his gun at the dog before the video ends.

Pult was pronounced dead at the scene, while Poole, who uses a wheelchair, was taken to a local trauma center. Poole, then 45, survived but continued to receive medical treatment for his wounds for a time.

The Summerises were taken into custody in Vallejo on July 12, 2017. Brazeal-Nelson was arrested on July 16 at the Imperial County Jail, where he was serving a sentence for a robbery in Yolo County.

Vallejo criminal defense attorney Dustin M. Gordon is representing Brazeal-Nelson. Assistant District Attorney Bruce Flynn is prosecuting the case.

Healy pointed out that the defendant had pleaded not guilty, that the charges presented did not constitute evidence, that evidence would be presented at trial and that Flynn, an experienced prosecutor, must prove the government’s arguments “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

A “cornerstone of our criminal justice system,” said the judge, “is the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof.”

Healy also noted that Brazeal-Nelson “has an absolute right not to testify” and that “the defense is not required to prove anything.”

Regarding the conduct of the jurors, the judge cautioned them not to discuss the case with the other jurors until deliberations begin in the jury room and not to discuss it with anyone else at any time.

“Keep an open mind,” Healy said, adding that jurors “cannot research the case” and must base their final decision on the evidence presented in court.

“Don’t Google anything,” he said.

Healy told jurors that if selected, they would “hear evidence that a person lost their life,” allegations of gun use and see evidence that a dog was shot. He also warned jurors not to judge anyone based on “the color of their skin, ethnicity, gender or identity,” or on their occupation or job.

According to court documents, lawyers in the cases in question estimated that each trial could take several weeks.

During the pandemic years, Solano County court clerks reduced court operations and rescheduled proceedings as needed in accordance with county, state and state Supreme Court guidelines, resulting in some delays in cases.

While the case was proceeding to trial, proceedings against the originally accused alleged third party, Elijah Elliott Summerise, 26, Amonie’s brother, were dismissed on Sept. 11, 2019, court records show.

Brazeal-Nelson is an inmate at Calipatria State Prison in Imperial County, where he is serving a sentence for a previous crime. He is being held without bail in the Solano County Jail on murder charges.

Jail records Tuesday also show he was suspected of assault on a prison guard, assault with a deadly weapon on a prison guard causing great bodily injury and battery by a prisoner on June 27. Bail on those charges was set at $750,000.

The elder Summerise is currently being held without bail at the Stanton Correctional Facility in Fairfield.

Flynn led the prosecution in the case, which falls under the category of special circumstances because the murder was committed during a robbery that was recorded by the store’s video surveillance camera.

At one point, Flynn was considering the death penalty in the case, but Gordon told The Reporter that the death penalty was “off the table” and would no longer be considered. However, if the two are convicted, Flynn could seek life sentences without the possibility of parole for the defendants.